James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne (Abstract), 26 March 1805

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

26 March 1805, New Orleans. “Your private Letter of the 14th. of January1 with its enclosure was duly received. I have not yet attempted to select any additional Members for the Council, inasmuch as few persons here would accept until the issue of the memorial to Congress was ascertained.2

“Eugene Dorciere, James Mather and George Pollocks Commissions bear Date the 30th of August,3 and William Floods the 12th of December. John Sibley has been offered an appointment, but no answer having been received the Commission is not yet filled up. It is probable that Doctor Sibley will not accept, in consequence of an Indian Agency confered on him by the President. Three of the Commissions which were sent forward to me were presented to Messrs. Dorciere, Mather and Pollock; the Gentlemen first named by the President, having declined accepting, the blanks were filled with the names above mentioned. The Commissions were dated the 30th, of August. The Council is now composed of Messrs. Julien Poydrass, Benjamin Morgan, William Wikoff, William Kenner, George Pollock, Eugene D’orciere, James Mather and William Flood.4 The seat of Doctor John Watkins has been vacated, in consequence of his appointment to the Office of Recorder of this City. When the Memorial to Congress is decided there will be no difficulty in completing the Council, but I am unwilling at this time to offer a Commission to any Citizen, lest my feelings should be subjected to the mortification of a refusal.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 6); letterbook copy (LU: LOUISiana Digital Library, Official Letter Book W. C. C. Claiborne). RC 2 pp.; marked “(Private)” and “(Duplicate)”; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 22 May, with his note: “To fill up the record.” Letterbook copy dated 16 Mar. 1805.

1Letter not found (calendared in PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 8:480).

2For the Louisiana citizens’ memorial to Congress, see Claiborne to JM, 1 Oct. 1804 (first letter), ibid., 105 and n. 1.

3For the commissions sent to Claiborne, see JM to Claiborne, 30 Aug. 1804 (ibid., 7:655–56 and n. and n. 2).

4Pennsylvania native and commission merchant Benjamin Morgan (d. 1826) served in both houses of the legislative council as well as on the New Orleans city council. A strong supporter of Claiborne, he was a prominent, public-spirited citizen who suffered business reverses before his death. Irish-born George Pollock (1755–1820), a friend of Morgan and supporter of Aaron Burr, also served on the legislative and city councils and held posts as justice of the peace, notary public, and warden of the port. Eugene Joris Dorsière (1761–1809) was a Swiss native who served in the Sardinian army and who had lived in Philadelphia, where he was a dancing master. He lived in Illinois before moving to New Orleans, where he owned a liquor business. He was a member of the legislative council and the territorial legislature, a judge of the court of common pleas, and a Claiborne supporter. Virginian William Flood (ca. 1775–1823) was a civic-minded Claiborne associate who, after serving as a member of the territorial council and port physician, went into business following the War of 1812. All four men were also members of the local militia. English-born James Mather (ca. 1750–1821) was a merchant with extensive landholdings who was a member of the legislative council, a county judge, and mayor of New Orleans, 1807–1812. Virginian William Kenner (1774–1824) had been a justice of the peace in Mississippi before moving to New Orleans, where he established himself in business, owned sugar plantations, and served on the legislative council. A longtime Louisiana resident, American William Wyckoff Sr., a landowner “of Opelousas,” served on the legislative council and was an auctioneer and parish treasurer (Bradley, Interim Appointment, 282–97, 438–46, 553–56, 557–59; Conrad, Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, 1:460, 557; Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:277, 281, 345, 601).

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